Not all of the Asian migrant workers in Bahrain are behaving liking angels, so it has been suggested that we ship them away out of sight of the Bahraini communities. Why do these people think that every problem can be solved through collective punishment and segregation? First it was gender segregation, and now it is racial segregation. What I wouldn't mind is if they rounded up all of the people who have abused and mistreated migrant workers (1, 2, 3, 4) and relocate them far away from everyone else, in their own little commune. I wonder, what could we name the place?... "Prison"?
A call has gone out to move large numbers of expatriates out of Manama, following clashes between Bahrainis and Asians living in the capital. It was suggested to Crown Prince and BDF Commander-in-Chief Shaikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa during a meeting with the Housing and Urban Development Committee, which he chairs.
The idea has been championed by Manama Municipal Council chairman Murtadha Bader, who wants to see expatriate workers relocated to other parts of the country. He says Bahrainis now account for just 20 per cent of residents in Manama. If the current trend continues, Bahrainis are expected to account for just 11pc of the Manama population within 10 years, according to Mr Bader.
This has resulted in confrontations between Asians and Bahrainis, who have complained that vice dens and alcohol bootleggers are turning their neighbourhoods into crime havens. Mr Bader says there have been at least two clashes between Bahraini and Asian residents in the past few months. (Continued)
GDN editor Les Horton has responded to this plan well in his daily column. (This is the second time in only a week that I am supporting what Mr Horton has to say!). He rightly explains that the plan is to ship all of the Asians out of the sight of locals, but keep them just close enough to come in and do the dirty work everyday. A couple excerpts from the column:
Their targets (for now, at least) are mainly the poorer Asians, many of whom live crammed together into squalid, derelict buildings, because that is all they can afford. These are the people who build Bahrain's roads, then sweep them clean. They are the labourers who build our office blocks and villas, they are tailors, carpenters, mechanics, drivers and the shopkeepers who keep those cold stores open all night.
So the plan appears to be to ship all the Asian bachelors into camps away from the Bahraini communities, whom they would still be expected to serve.
But I have another suggestion. If these poor Asian workers are such a blight on the community, then send them all home. Put Bahrainis behind the counters at those 24-hour cold stores for 12-hour shifts, seven days a week - for BD40 to BD60 a month. Put Bahrainis on the building sites or send them out repairing and sweeping the roads. Close those 24-hour clinics staffed at night by Indian or Filipina staff, or get Bahrainis to take their place - at similar wages. Shut the Manama suq, since it relies so heavily on Asians to man its shops and stalls - or tell Bahrainis to step in to keep it open. Let's close all those fast-food joints, shawarma stalls and restaurants, staffed by so many Asians because Bahrainis don't want the jobs.
Do we need all those Pakistani goldsmiths on whose backs the jewellery trade survives, or those Asian cleaners who mop the floors of our offices and malls ? Bahrain obviously does, which is why they are here in the first place and why they deserve some respect from those who rely on them.